Here’s how the Marvel-inspired “tuxedo” suits protecting SpaceX astronauts work

MARK BLUNDEN
Astronauts Robert Behnken (right) and Douglas Hurley (left) are on course to make history: NASA/Kim Shiflett/PA Wire

Astronauts will have a second go at blasting off in the first privately-developed spaceship on Saturday after their first attempt was scotched by poor weather.

To survive the rigours of galactic travel - while looking sharp - Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley have been kitted out with white and grey suits inspired by tuxedos, with a touch of the Star Wars imperial stormtrooper.

Elon Musk, the billionaire tech tycoon behind the SpaceX programme, said he worked for “three to four years” to create prototypes with costume designer Jose Fernandez, who has dreamed up outfits for The Avengers, X-Men films and Batman v Superman.

Mr Fernandez previously told Bleep magazine: "Musk kept saying, anyone looks better in a tux, no matter what size or shape they are.”

The custom-made spacesuits were created from a type of Teflon and Nomex, a fire retardant fabric similar to Kevlar, along with gloves designed to work with the touchscreen dashboard controls used to pilot their spacecraft.

Bob Behnken in his custom smart spacesuit, designed to withstand a loss in air pressure (PA)

They were built at the SpaceX facility in California to be sleeker than the traditional Nasa all-in-ones, but must the same protection from a loss of air pressure in the capsule.

Features inside the ultimate wearable smart garment include touch-sensitive gloves and an “umbilical” cable port for communications and air.

The bulky, spherical helmets favoured by Nasa have been swapped for a slightly more oval design resembling motocross protective headgear.

Helmet features include valves, locks, microphones and mechanisms for retracting the clear face visor.

The Crew Dragon capsule prepared for the first launch from the Kennedy Space Centre, which was scrubbed due to poor weather (AP)

Mr Musk said: “It took us three, almost four years to design these suits that both look good and work well.

“You see the spacesuits in the movies — they look good, they don't work well.

“You can make a spacesuit that works, but it doesn't look good, because fundamentally it's a pressure suit that has to survive in a vacuum.”

Testing the touchscreen control dashboard of the Crew Dragon with their high-tech smart gloves (SpaceX)

Colonels Behnken and Hurley, both veteran Nasa astronauts, will once again attempt blast-off on the Demo-2 commercial test flight mission bound for the International Space Station in a Crew Dragon module on top of a Falcon 9 rocket.

It will be the second attempt after the planned departure from Florida’s Kennedy Space Centre was scrubbed with just under 17 minutes left on the countdown clock.

The new scheduled launch time is 3.22pm in Florida, or 8.22pm UK time.

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